November 21, 2008
By Alan Greenwade, Houston, TX

Brit closed the door to the small locker room, shutting out all light save for the small fluorescent bulb hanging in the center of the room. Combat equipment hung outside some of the lockers on hooks labeled “Repairs Needed” and two armless metal benches were placed perfectly in the center of the room, with the ends of the benches parallel to the ends of the rows of lockers.

Didac sat on a bench, facing opposite the entrance to the locker room. He was hunched over with his elbows on his knees and his hands hung limply from his forearms, his right hand had a long, connected grotesque scar following the top knuckles of his fingers, his hair was cut very short, amounting to little more than dark coloration of his head.

Brit leaned against the end of the locker row facing Didac, making a diagonal line of sight with him. “They want you to recover his tags.” She stared at her feet while she kicked the heel of her left foot with the toe of her right.

Didac brought his right hand to his forehead and looked down. “Well I want you to do it.” There was silence for several moments; Brit raised her head to look at Didac.

I know how you feel


We all do.

Don't do this.

I'm sorry.

Didac inhaled sharply through his nose, “No you’re not.” he placed his left hand inside of his right. “If you were sorry you would’ve been able to do something, what you mean to say is you wish.” His voice began to stumble and rose to a yell. “What you mean to say is that you wish you could’ve done something.” His eyes looked to the ground and then back at her. “So does everyone else.”

“Because we’ve all lost people in this…”

Bull! the word burst through his teeth “You know people who have died and that’s it. You haven’t lost anybody because they weren’t yours.” His eyes were daunting in their sorrowful sincerity. “You don’t know what it’s like to lose a part of yourself. He dies, Briggs dies… and you want me to find his body and get his tags. Who ordered this? What sick jerk ordered this?”

Brit looked down, ashamed and apprehensive. “Chase has orders from high command; you’re the only one who knows how to get there, and whatever took him out, we need to know, if it wasn’t this important…”

“When we would go through the ruins together, an old house or office building, we’d see people, lots of people just dead. No story, consumed by the bleak, part of the wastes.” Didac choked on his words. “I don’t want to think of him like that.” He averted his eyes and shut them in an attempt to keep his eyes dry. “I can’t think of him like that, I can’t think of him as just another stopped motion horror exhibit and I don’t want to see it.”

Brit closed her eyes and took a quick deep breath.
“Dammit Didac.”
“When we were kids we had to look out for each other, our entire childhood we were out in the bleak trying to make it every day, and the only reason we weren’t killed or enslaved or any of the other thousand things that could’ve happened to us was because the other would never let that happen. It was the only genuine human interaction I’ve ever seen, we needed each other to survive...” His own involuntary exhale interrupted him. “…and now he’s dead.” Brit looked down at the floor with her arms crossed, her hands gripped her elbows. “And for what? So some wthieves and murderers can have a little of this hell taken off of their shoulders? So that maybe some bigots and smut dealers can stop worrying when they go to sleep at night?”
“There are still good people in this world…”
“Not in a world where he dies instead of them there aren’t.” The words snapped from his lungs and he stared directly at her eyes, causing her to realize what she had really asked of him. After the first few moments of the ensuing silence he lowered his head again.
Chase opened the door Brit had entered through, Didac brought his scarred hand to his eyes, overpowered and broken.

Dammit, don’t make me do this.” He lifted his head slowly, giving Brit the first sight of his tears, his eyes so dark and deep, glassed by the tears and framed by the skin they had rashed. “Don’t make me do this.”

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